Rachel Kline ’20, Making Anthropologists at the Penn Museum

Rachel Kline ’20 is interning at the Penn Museum this summer. Photo by Alexandra Iglesia ’21

Rachel Kline ’20 delves into her internship position with the Penn Museum as a camp counselor for their Anthropologists in the Making summer program.

Hello! My name is Rachel Kline ’20, and this summer I’m interning at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, also known to Philly locals simply as  the Penn Museum. I am working with the museum-run summer camp called Anthropologists in the Making. My position is half assistant counselor, half assistant to the camp director, but mainly involves helping with the day-to-day running of summer camp. Each week is centered on a different theme related to our collections, so we plan activities, crafts, expert talks, and gallery talks around the week’s topic. As a double major in Anthropology and History of Art, I was excited to begin learning more about the cultures represented in the Penn Museum’s collections, especially Ancient Rome and Greece. However, I did not anticipate learning most new information about archaeology from the campers themselves! I work with a bright group of kids, and I enjoy every minute I get to interact with them, especially because many of them are just as passionate about Archaeology and Art History as I am

This past week from July 16th – 20th was Myths and Legends Week, which means all of our activities were centered around mythology from different cultures, including China, Africa, Mesopotamia, the Americas, and the Classical world. On Monday and Tuesday, we made star wheels as an introduction to stars as symbols which ancient peoples used to tell stories and develop mythology. We talked about why many of the constellations have names of Greek origins, but also pointed

Clay model of Mount Olympus created by campers for weekly showcase presentation that draws upon knowledge gained during the week at the museum

out that the Mayans had an equally sophisticated methodology for mapping the stars, as evidenced in their architecture. Counselors gave gallery talks throughout the week on different topics involving mythology, and I was able to tag along on a great talk about mythical creatures in the ancient world. This consisted of campers examining the Middle East, Egyptian, and Greek galleries for depictions of mythical creatures, and a following discussion about the cross-cultural exchange of ideas using myth as evidence.

On Fridays of each week, we put on a showcase where each of the four age groups presents on a sub-topic given to them on Tuesdays. Along with a general theme for their presentation, campers are given a box of craft supplies to use creatively in order to construct a demonstration of their topic for parents and friends to come see on Friday. I worked with one group of kids ages 10-11 this past week, and since their topic was Greek mythology, I supervised some of their research on myth in the Greece gallery. We looked at displays about the Olympian gods, hero legends, religious practices, and the epic poems of the Iliad and Odyssey. Our group decided to focus in on the gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece, and for showcase, they created a model of Mount Olympus complete with a list of the Greek pantheon to explain to parents.

Display in the Ancient Greece gallery used by campers researching Greek mythology and the Olympian Gods during Myths and Legends Week

As a prospective graduate student in art history, spending time at a major research institution like the Penn Museum has cemented my desire to enter the museum field. Talking with curators, researchers, and exhibition designers along with the summer camp and public programs staff has helped me paint a clearer picture of my career goals. My central academic interest is the intersection between art and culture, and the Penn Museum collections provide an excellent opportunity to examine how ancient ways of life shaped the art and artifacts they produced. The Penn Museum displays many of their artifacts as objects of material culture, meaning that they are infused with anthropological meaning beyond just aesthetic value. Interning at a museum where anthropology and art history come together in harmony has helped strengthen my understanding of the humans behind the art they created.

Written by Rachel Kline ’20

Edited by MacK Somers ’20